Released by Naughty Dog back in 1999, the original Crash Team Racing has long been considered something of a cult-classic in the kart racer genre. That’s why it was so exciting to hear that we would finally be getting a modern remake. Needless to say, fans of CTR will not be disappointed, as Nitro-Fueled delivers the level of speed, savagery, and fun that I haven’t felt since my third DUI.
I’ll say it right now: CTR’s exhilarating sense of momentum and turbo-boosted gameplay makes it the most balls-to-the-wall experience I’ve had since 2016 when I went on a bender, fled from the cops in my Mazda 3, and plowed into an oak tree.
Featuring 26 racers and 31 courses from the Crash Bandicoot universe, the new Crash is a gorgeous, pulse-pounding game that somehow manages to match the feeling of speeding past swirling streetlights and neon signs at 115 mph that I felt that fateful summer night. In fact, the whole game is a real nostalgia trip, transporting me back to a time when the cop sirens were whining behind me and there was nothing but smooth asphalt up ahead.
There’s almost nothing like that rush—nothing except for the immersive racing experience of Nitro-Fueled.
What really sets Crash apart from other kart racers is the turbo-boost system, where power slides slowly cause a racing meter to fill up, which leads to faster and faster boosts. The rush is incredible, reminding me of that sheer sense of joy that comes from getting behind the wheel after six hours in a bar and burning out into the distance with the wheel in one hand and a beer in another. God, I miss it so much. Of course, I know it was wrong. But there was nothing like it, and CTR will let any average gamer taste what I was able to taste three years ago, blitzed out of my mind, barreling down Route 23.
That kind of intensity isn’t for everyone, of course. Casual fans may have a hard time picking up the game, just like some of my friends begged me not to drive that night. But the challenge is what makes anything worthwhile, whether it’s the game’s adventure mode or trying to navigate a winding road at 1 a.m. as you fight through sleep and unsteady vision.
And unlike the more novice-friendly Mario Kart, when you fall behind in Crash there are no all-powerful items that give you a second chance to catch up. No matter what people tell you, in life, there are no such thing as second chances. It’s a crucial lesson you’ll learn from Crash or, in my case, from a five-month prison sentence and a decade-long license suspension.
Ultimately, with its fun, up-for-anything spirit and blistering gameplay, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is the kind of amazing adrenaline rush that makes me feel like I’m there again, back behind the wheel, 16 Coors deep. The characters feel like old friends, bursting with personality, just like my friends Mikey and Scott (R.I.P.), who kept urging me to pull over because the cops were behind us.
Sure, it may not be every gamer’s cup of tea, but for those who do love it, it’s an experience unlike anything out there.